Rangers' Matt Rempe awed by greats calling for him to play

Mark Messier calls for Rempe to return to Rangers' lineup (0:29)

Mark Messier ponders if Matt Rempe returning to the lineup can energize the Rangers. (0:29)

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- After the New York Rangers' listless Game 1 loss to the Florida Panthers at home to open the Eastern Conference finals, conversation turned to how they could energize themselves and the Madison Square Garden crowd for Friday night's Game 2.

Specifically, if 6-foot-8 rookie sensation Matt Rempe should return to the lineup.

"If that happens, I want to be buzzing. Anytime you get an opportunity, you want to make the most of it," Rempe said. "This is awesome. Eastern Conference final. Come on. It's the best."

Rangers coach Peter Laviolette wouldn't say if Rempe was in or out of the lineup for Game 2.

Rempe, 21, last played in Game 5 of the second-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes. He has a goal and an assist in seven playoff games, averaging just 6:18 per game in ice time.

But it's not how much he plays as it is what happens when he's on the ice: The crowd chanting his name as Rempe throws his huge frame into hits -- and occasionally taking penalties for them. He has 8 penalty minutes in the playoffs after amassing 71 PIMs in 17 regular-season games, when he averaged 5:37 in ice time.

He brings an energy the Rangers lacked in Game 1. Rempe's status for Game 2 became a national conversation as the Rangers fell to the Panthers 3-0 and trail in a series for the first time in the playoffs. ESPN analyst Mark Messier endorsed his return.

"Maybe they should think about putting Rempe in the lineup," Messier said Wednesday.

The panel on TNT's broadcast Thursday night debated whether Rempe should return, including Hockey Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky and Henrik Lundqvist saying he could make an impact.

Rempe, who joined the Rangers in February from AHL Hartford, found those debates surreal.

"It's unbelievable. Those guys are legends. To be talked about by them is pretty damn cool," he said. "If I get an opportunity, I want to make most of it. I don't want to let anyone down."

Laviolette said any outside opinions are immaterial to his decision-making process.

"Any decision that I make is based on the conversations that we have as a group internally here," he said. "I can't really make my decisions based on that. The players that we do put in the lineup, we're hoping that they have a positive impact inside the game."

Rempe said he was not feeling any extra pressure if he does return to the team.

"I'm 21. I have no pressure," he said. "I just want to do the most. If I know that I work my hardest, I can look myself behind and say I'm proud of myself."

A recent point of pride for Rempe: solving a Vampire Escape Room in White Plains the other day with teammate Adam Edstrom and his girlfriend, a tale he enthusiastically shared after practice Friday.

"I was not off to a hot start, but Eddie was buzzing. And then the last half I had some elite codebreakers. I solved the puzzle. The guy was so impressed that he took us out for wings after, so it was a good job. I blew it away. It was some Zodiac sign puzzle. I didn't even know anything about Zodiac signs, but I cracked it. Not a big deal," he said. "So that was good. He took us out for wings, so that was fun."